Location: NM, Carlsbad Caverns, TX: Prude Ranch in the Davis Mountains
Weather: Always a constant 56 degrees in the cave, 90’s and Sunny as we approached TX
Mileage: 1700 miles
Due to the time change (Mountain Time) we were up with the sun. D&J disappeared and came back with a dead bird that D shot with his sling shot. There was deep disappointment on his face when his dad said, “No. We are not going to skin and eat it!”
On that note we headed back to Carlsbad Caverns to descend 750 thigh-strengthening feet into the Natural Entrance. The large colony of swallowtails was as much fun to watch as the bats the night before. There were nests up in the rock ledges where we watched them feeding their babies. We wandered the steep, dark paths down into the enormous Big Room with incredible formations that will spark anyone’s imagination. The Jr. Ranger Badge Booklets led us on a scavenger hunt of the cave formations and unique characteristics of this cave. Into mile 2 enthusiasm began to wane. L, especially, became a droopy soul leaning on every railing and complaining of being hungry and cold. We were all happy to see the sun as we took the elevators to the top.
Now to dash to get the Jr. Ranger Badges and get our camper off the site in 20 minutes! Divvying up the responsibilities in the car made breaking down camp possible in 30 minutes. We didn't make it, but we were only 30 minutes late getting off the site. Since we didn’t get lunch we decided to eat at the local greasy spoon, Jack’s Saloon. It lived up to its name. Sometimes a little grease can make you happy. The kids couldn’t resist running up a hill to explore a little house that looked like a sand castle. Though disappointed that it was surrounded by a fence, they still were enthusiastic in their descriptions of what they imagined life in a house like that would be like.
The Guadalupe Mountains was on the hope list to explore but we didn’t have time. We decided to still drive through. Little did we know how difficult it would be to keep the camper on the road due to the wind. We guessed this was the usual since there were signs warning of high winds and the road stop picnic tables were surrounded by two walls. We passed by the highest point in Texas. It is 4,000 ft taller than Brasstown Bald (GA’s highest point that we climbed last fall.) There was no temptation to climb this record breaking height.
Once more we targeted a small town, Van Horn, to find a grocery store to hopefully get some fresh fruit and vegetables. While K and I shopped Craig took the kids to the Dairy Queen to get ice cream. They quickly made friends with local twins who lead them in a wild chasing game on the playground. Full and exercised they were willing to get back in the car for the hour and half drive through the west TX wilderness to Prude Ranch. Excitement grew in the car as we sighted for the first time mule deer, javelina and a roadrunner. We were amused by the sign, “Loose Livestock” and even more amused to drive through towns with cows wandering everywhere.
It was dark as we set up camp at Prude Ranch (www.prude-ranch.com). According to the website Grandma Prude came to the west on a covered wagon. After marrying Andrew Prude, the couple established a homestead in 1900. In 1921 they began the guest ranch to share the beauty of the ranch and cool summer months with city dwellers. At this late hour (losing an hour crossing back to Central Time) we looked forward to exploring in the morning.